EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

 for Sun, Aug 3, 2008

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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 8 August 3, 2008     

Around the Field
By Jack Hodgson

Jack Allison

There are all sorts of interesting routes to take to Oshkosh. Jack Allison, who is from Sacramento, California, flew by airliner to Chicago, where he met up with a friend and they came the rest of the way in a rented 172.

Allison usually flies an Arrow out of Lincoln Regional Airport near Sacramento. Heís flown the Arrow all the way to Oshkosh for the past three years.

This is Jackís sixth visit to AirVenture. Like so many, the appeal of Oshkosh is not just watching the planes but meeting up with new and old friends.

"We like just sitting out here watching airplanes come and go. Thereís a bunch of friends that weíve met over the years that we usually hook up with."

He also likes the chance to meet other aviation people who he normally only sees from afar. Jack flies near Beale Air Force Base, and you often share the skies with some of that big iron.

"Itís spitting distance from the guys with the U-2 at Beale," says Jack. "In fact I talked to them yesterday and I said, ĎI fly through your airspace all the time.í"

But in the final analysis, the Oshkosh experience is about being with just-plain folks, who share your love for flying.

"I think itís the chance just to hang out. Everybody you talk to, especially out here in the North 40, everybody flew in from different areas, and you never know who youíre gonna camp near.

"Youíre just living and breathing aviation for the week. Iíll connect with friends that Iíve met six years ago here on the field that Iíve established friendships with, people from Wisconsin, from Iowa, all over. Itís a neat chance to just sit and hang out with people and talk airplanes."

Rob Caughron

Rob Caughron has been coming to the fly-in for five years, but this is the first time heís flown here in his own plane.

He flew here from his home field of Flying Cloud Airport in Minneapolis.

"I brought my instructor with me just to make sure I didnít screw-up. And I was so focused on the plane in front of me, and maintaining my altitude, I didnít know I was a half mile from Wittman. Suddenly he goes, Rob, look out your right window. And Iím like, whoa! There it is! Wow. Iím actually doing this."

"It was great; I got a compliment from tower. I landed right on the dot, he goes, ĎHey, orange high wing, good job on the dot.í I was just ecstatic."

They flew two hours to Merrill, Wisconsin, on the day before they arrived here. Merrill is one of Robís favorite flying destinations.

"Itís a wonderful place to come through here. Itís one of my weekend hops. Itís got a beautiful long strip on it. They have lots of ultralights. I get to go up with all the other little planes. They have fly-ins. Itís fantastic."

Then they made the 45-minute hop to OSH in the morning.

Rob loves all the people he meets at AirVenture.

"Last year I met a CFI, weíre great friends now. Heís in Florida. A couple of years before that I met a gentleman from Hawaii. It just so happens that we were going to Hawaii. I hooked up with him. I said, hey, weíre here. He said, címon, letís go flying. We got a 172 and went island hopping."

Robís been flying for six years and is now working on his instrument rating.

Robís plane is a 1974 C-150 Aerobat. He just got it this past March. He found it in Flint Michigan, and the flight home with it was his first adventure in the plane.

"We flew every piece of weather we could, flying back to Minneapolis. Nine-and-one-half hours of flight time. We went through snow, rain, fog, haze, minimum visibility, Class G airspace."

"We got to one point, halfway through Wisconsin, where thereís not a light bulb to be seen. And all of a sudden he flips the landing light on, and all I see is blinding snow. I said, ĎBrian, please, just shut that off.í"

Itís only been four months, but he already has strong feelings for his little airplane.

"I keep getting so attached to it. Itís like my little baby. I have a hard time seeing myself ever letting go of it. Everyone keeps telling me itís just a tool. But I donít know; I love this thing."

People who love their airplanes are not in short supply at Wittman Field for this magical week each year. Whether we own, or rent, or merely stand and gaze longingly, we all share this love of flight. We gather here each summer to renew old friendships and make new ones. Weíre here to learn and question and brag and even lie a little. But itís all among friends. Most of us are heading out now, heading home. But weíll be back, we wouldnít miss it.

See you all next year.

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